Last Friday I hurt myself doing absolutely nothing.
It was a day like any other—I got up (late as usual), rushed to get dressed, fed the dog and dropped him off at doggie day care on my way to work. “Work” these days consists of daily trips to Starbucks, where I camp out to write and enjoy my caffeinated beverage of choice.
I was a little late in arriving, so I had to wait out an elderly gentleman, who was in my favorite secluded seat in the corner. (Doesn’t he know that the few seats next to the outlets are reserved for laptop users like me? Geesh.) No sooner did I have that snarky little thought, then Karma sprang into action. “Ouch!” I had turned to plug my computer into the outlet and managed to somehow seriously hurt my shoulder. I don’t know what I did to injure myself, but my shoulder is now making sounds that only rickety old machinery from the turn-of-the-20th century makes as it grinds to a permanent halt.
My very wise husband insisted that I make an appointment with my massage therapist who is skilled in orthopedic/medical massage. Since I can’t comfortably move my shoulder and have lost the complete range of motion, I complied without much fuss. The appointment is this afternoon.
In preparation for my massage, I went through the daily routine of bathing and scrubbing, but with far extra attention to detail. I exfoliated with sea salt. I used the long-handled scrub brush and broke out the loofah. I shaved—twice. I scraped and sanded my rough heels until they were as smooth as a baby’s bottom. I cursed myself for having not gotten a pedicure this weekend. I dried off, deodorized, perfumed and powdered. As my mom would say, I was “squeaky clean”.
Throughout this ritualistic cleansing, I began thinking about how goofy I was being. One should definitely maintain good hygiene, but I was now obsessively cleaning. And this isn’t the only instance. I do this all the time. For days leading up to my dental appointments, I scrub and floss my teeth like a crazy woman. I use the weird-looking tongue scraper, and I gargle intensely as if I can make up in a week for not flossing regularly since my last checkup six months ago. But the madness doesn’t begin and end with my bodily cleanliness.
A few times a year, I treat myself to having a group of maids come in and clean my house from the baseboard to the ceiling. They do a fabulous job, but they aren’t cheap. So in order to get my money’s worth and to ensure the maids don’t catch on to the full extent of my slobbery, I start cleaning and organizing the house days before their scheduled visit. I wash and fold the laundry and EVEN put it away! (A truly magnificent and rare feat in my home.) I clear everything off of the counters and put anything left out back where it belongs. I straighten up the closets and make sure nothing is left on my newly “Swiffered” floor. Anything that isn’t put away by the time the maids arrive gets hidden in the garage. By the time I’m done, my husband questions why we need the maids to come at all.
This same cleaning frenzy also occurs before the plumber, pest control man, electricians or friends come over. My husband calls it “the mad scramble.”
I could blame this completely on my OCD, but I don’t think that would be accurate. I think it’s genetic, or at least a learned trait. My mom had an enormous hole in her kitchen ceiling from Hurricane Katrina that she refused to have repaired. It wasn’t a cost issue—it was just an inconvenience to go through the motions to hire a contractor, get estimates and get it fixed. Her logic was that she rarely had company other than immediate family, and it didn’t bother her as long as she didn’t look up, so why go through the hassle of fixing it? For five years, that gaping hole drove me nuts. It drove my relatives nuts. My mom, however, was completely unphased—until her financial advisor scheduled a visit. The ceiling got repaired and repainted instantly before he arrived. Poof! It was like magic.
So what does all this mean? Maybe it shows I’m not the best housekeeper. Probably, it proves that I’m motivated into action mostly out of fear of embarrassment and judgment. Definitely, it guarantees that the house will be spotless when you visit and that I will be smelling like a rose.